Sunday, March 1, 2015

Exotic & Unique Ancient Jewelry

Ancient Jewelry
Paleolithic Period

Upper Paleolithic Circa 30,000 B.C necklace composed of carved shells and animal bones.

The oldest know objects that are believed to have served a decorative purpose for the human body are approximately 110,000 years old. Drilled Shell Beads from the time (The Middle Paleolithic Period) have been found in a cave in present day Morocco. Whether these shells have fulfilled a purely decorative purpose or were used as a Amulet or status symbol is unknown.
Other finds from throughout the Middle and Upper Paleolithic era indicate a continuous use of organic materials for body decoration, The organic nature of the material used prevents us from getting a clearer view of jewelry during this period as weathering and decay have destroyed most of it over time.

Amulet- An ornament of symbols and gemstones used to ward off evil.

Neolithic Period

Neolithic Sahara stone beads necklace. Carnelian, quartz, agate. Some biconic. From Mauritania, Chinguetti, Adrar region. 

It was during the Neolithic period that a large trading network between tribes came about. Items that were desirable in everyday life though unique to certain localities, were traded over vast areas.
Towards the end of the Neolithic age products that were in abundance or unique to one tribe were traded to tribes in neighboring areas. This trading increased contact between different tribes and cultures, which meant techniques  and innovations were exchanged also, this made life so much simpler. Learning efficient methods of farming, fishing and hunting, with new and improved farming techniques and a growing amount of specialization, social differences started to become more pronounced. Jewelry was the perfect way to discern oneself from others by wearing the biggest and the most beautiful and unique pieces. Jewelry was now not only a decorative feature or an Amulet but an expression of status as well.
Stone working techniques evolved a great deal during the Neolithic period. Certain stones could now be drilled by others and Chip Carving of the softer materials like bone, wood and horn with the use of stone chisels reached higher sophistication.

Chip Carving - Chip Carving is a metal working technique known since Prehistoric times. It come from the direct tranlation of the German word 'Kerbschnitt'. It involves removing material with the aid of a chisel and hammer to create relief decorations.

Bronze Age

Late Bronze Age, ca. 1300 B.C., Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, Turkey. Pendant with Nude Female, Gold, H. 9.1 cm w. 4.7 cm max. thickness 0.9 cm, Uluburun shipwreck.

Around 3000 BC,when the technique of metal working began, the Neolithic period faded and became the Bronze Age . Tribes and societies grew at an alarming rate and long distance trade, specialization and social differentiation increased dramatically. The first real cities ruled by Kings were seen at this time in Mesopotamia.
Many new and unique inventions were being discovered. such as, the wheel and script and the first real professions came about in the form of full time farmers and craftsmen. In jewelry manufacturing, because of its color. luster and malleability, Gold became the metal of choice for jewelry purposes. An interesting side note: Was the exception that the Egyptians favored Silver over Gold.

Bronze Age -The Bronze Age is a term introduced by a Danish Archaeologist named Thompson, Somewhere around 1830 Thompson classified Prehistory periods according to materials that were available and used to manufacture cutting tools and weapons.
Gold - Alluvial Gold deposits were known to the Naqada and Badari cultures in Predynastic Egypt and it was here that around 4000 BC Gold was used to make jewelry. Side note: Some of the oldest known Gold objects ever to be unearthed came from modern day Bulgaria, found in burial sites from the ancient Thracian culture (4400 BC).

A Rare Pair of Sumerian Gold Double Lobed Crescent Earrings (2500 BC to 2500 BC Mesopotamian)

Excavations of the Ancient city of Ur, have revealed Royal graves from Sumerian civilizations, these civilizations in Mesopotamia were the first to use techniques like Filigree and Granulation as far back as 2500 BC. Sumerian craftsmen created beautiful jewelry using Gold and Silver in combination with unique precious stones like Lapis Lazuli, Carnelian and Agate. Many wonderful pieces of jewelry were produced by the Sumerian craftsmen, including Finger Rings, Gold Chains, Necklaces and Earrings.

FiligreeFiligree is the name given jewelry designs created from very fine metal wires soldered in intricate patterns.
GranulationGranulation is a process that causes very small gold beads to adhere to the surface metal, through heat, with no apparent solder
SilverSilver is a white metallic element, harder than gold, softer than copper and second only to gold in malleability and ductility.


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  2. Great article with fantastic information!